Mary Leman Grimstone

Hobart in 1825 (AOT, PH30/1/405)

Mary Leman Grimstone (née Rede, c 1796–1869), author and feminist, published verse from around 1815 and a novel in 1825. After a brief marriage, in 1825 she ventured to Hobart with her sister Lucy Adey. From Hobart she published an essay, notorious for bewailing the colony's barbarism. However even that piece and still more some verse empathised with the place and looked to its happier future. In 1829 Mary returned to Britain, joining a radical intelligentsia and publishing an oeuvre that won comparison with Jane Austen's. It included Woman's Love (1832), written in Hobart and arguably the first Australian novel. Woman's Love eschewed Tasmaniana, but other work cherished Mary's vision for the island, as well as her feminism and idealism. She might have been the model for Tennyson's 'Lady Psyche'.

Further reading: M Roe, 'Mary Leman Grimstone…', THRAPP 36/1, 1989, 42/1, 1995; E Morris Miller, Pressmen and governors, Sydney, 1952; P Clarke, Pen portraits, Sydney, 1988.

Michael Roe